After a 30-year run in Islip, Lily Flanagan’s became the stuff of memories last week when new owners took over and Mary Dowling’s signs went up.
But fear not. While the inside and outside is being updated and upgraded, the new Mary Dowling’s Irish Pub & Restaurant will have a similar feel.
For one, remaining behind the bar will be Edward “Lanny” Skehan of East Islip, who’s worked at Lily Flanagan’s since before 1987, when the historic building at 528 Main Street played host to The Pumphouse.
The new owners are Richard “Kippy” Kuplen, a 1984 Islip High School graduate who now lives in Dix Hills, and his brother-in-law, Joseph Frizalone of Farmingdale.
“We’ve been coming to this establishment since we were 18 years old,” said Kuplen.
He and Frizalone purchased the business last Wednesday.
The plan is to close after July 4 for about 10 days, maybe less, as the bar and restaurant undergoes its makeover.
Kuplen and Frizalone are also bringing in known Long Island chef Marc Anthony Bynum of Hush Bistro in Farmingdale as a consultant.
Bynum, whose chipotle BBQ ribs have been featured in Oprah’s “O” magazine, among other accolades he’s received, will be creating a new menu this summer for Mary Dowling’s. But that menu will still include traditional Irish standards like shepherd’s pie and corned beef, and American bar favorites like burgers and wings, Kuplen assured.
“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, but we’re going to serve food with fresh ingredients,” he said. “Our food is already great but it’s only going to get better [with Bynum’s help].”
Kuplen, a recently retired 31-year master technician for Toyota, also owns Kuplen Properties LLC, a construction company, and Kup’s Auto Spa in Centereach.
He’s also a longtime friend of original Lily’s owner David Crowe, whose family started the Lily’s chain that had operated as many as five Lily Flanagan’s bars and restaurants on Long Island.
Crowe’s mother and the restaurant’s namesake, Lily Flanagan, passed away two years ago, Skehan said. The family had sold the business in Islip about 10 years ago.
But Kuplen and Frizalone knew they wanted to change the name, mostly to signal a fresh start and to put own stamp on Main Street in Islip.
Keeping with tradition, Mary Dowling’s Irish Pub & Restaurant is also named for a matriarch, this time Kuplen and Frizalone’s late mother in law Mary Dowling, who died in 1999.
“She was a great, great lady,” Kuplen said. “She came off the boat from Ireland. Married a Marine. They were married for around 50 years. She never had a driver’s license. She walked to church every day. And she raised five great kids.”
“But it’s always refreshing to see new energy come into town with trendy changes and updates,” she added. “[The new owners] have quickly embraced a relationship with the chamber and we look forward to showing them off at our upcoming street fair this weekend.”
“Lanny” Skehan is especially happy with the new ownership. Because there’s one sign that won’t be coming down.
It’s the one at the back door that reads:
Welcome to Lannyville
Proceed At Your Own Risk
Top (L-R): Edward “Lanny” Skehan and Richard “Kippy” Kuplen rocking their new Mary Dowling’s Irish Pub & Restaurant T-shirts Thursday at the bar in Islip. (Credit: Michael White)